The Derby Ram
Once, gods were worshipped in the form of animals (Christians still sing Glory to the Lamb). To this day wherever the luck-visit custom survives, a man in animal guise, as a horse, deer, goat, may accompany the carollers. In the English Midlands the great totem beast was the tup, the ram, of huge capacities and dauntless potency. As belief in his magic faded, his ceremony became mere horse-play (is the term not apt? it has its ritual undertone) and his song a burlesque. Yet like the mighty beast himself, the song proved hard to kill. Michael Waterson sings the solo.
Lyrics: As I was going to Derby, all on a market day I've spied the biggest ram, sir, that ever was fed on hay Chorus (after each verse): La lum lay lum people lay lum lay This tup was fat behind, sir, this tup was fat before This tup was nine feet round, sir, if not a little more And the horns upon this tup they grew, well they reached up to the sky The eagles made their nests within, you could hear the young ones cry Yes the horns that on this tup they grew, well they reached up to the moon A little boy went up in January and he never got back till June And all the men of Derby come begging for his tail To ring St George's passing bell from the top of Derby Gaol And all the women of Derby come begging for his ears To make 'em leather aprons to last 'em forty years And all the boys of Derby come begging for his eyes To make themselves some footballs cause they were of football size Took all the men of Derby to carry away his bones Took all the women of Derby to roll away his stones And now my story is over, and I have no more to say Please give us all a New Year's box and we will go away